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Series Wrapup

Story

The Oakland Athletics were the American League’s dominant team in 1988, running away with the Western Division title by finishing the regular season with a record of 104-58, 13 games ahead of the defending world champion Minnesota Twins.  

Although the Twins finished a distant second, they featured two of the league’s top performers in Kirby Puckett and Frank Viola.  Puckett hit 24 home runs, placed second in the circuit with 121 runs batted in and a .356 batting average, scored 109 runs, and led the A.L. with 234 hits.  Viola earned Cy Young honors by going 24-7, with a 2.64 ERA, 193 strikeouts, and 255 innings pitched.  

Despite the efforts of Puckett and Viola, the Twins never mounted a serious challenge to the powerful A’s, who clearly established themselves as the American League’s elite team over the course of the regular season.  Strong both on the mound and at the bat, the A’s finished second in the junior circuit with 800 runs scored and 156 home runs, and their team ERA of 3.44 placed them first in the league rankings.

Dave Stewart led the Oakland pitching staff with a 21-12 record, a 3.23 ERA, 192 strikeouts, and a league-leading 276 innings pitched and 14 complete games.  Bob Welch went 17-9, while Storm Davis contributed another 16 victories.  Meanwhile, Dennis Eckersley evolved into baseball’s best relief pitcher in just his second year as a full-time closer.  Eckersley topped the circuit with 45 saves, compiled a 2.35 earned run average, and struck out 70 batters in 72 innings of work, while surrendering only 52 hits to the opposition.

Dave Henderson, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco paced the A’s on offense.  Henderson hit 24 home runs, knocked in 94 runs, scored 100 others, and batted .304.  McGwire hit 32 homers and drove in 99 runs.  Canseco earned A.L. MVP honors by topping the circuit with 42 home runs, 124 runs batted in, and a .569 slugging percentage, while also batting .307, scoring 120 runs, and stealing 40 bases.  Canseco’s 42 homers and 40 steals made him the first player in major league history to reach the 40-mark in both categories in the same season.

While the A’s had a relatively easy time winning the Western Division crown, the Boston Red Sox encountered significantly more resistance in the East, where five teams remained in contention until the season’s final week.  Boston clinched the division title on the last day of the regular season, edging out the second-place Detroit Tigers by only one game, with a record of 89-73.  The Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays finished tied for third in the division, just two games back, while the Yankees came in a close fifth, only 3 ½ games off the pace.

The Yankees featured two of the league’s top players in Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield.  Henderson batted .305, scored 118 runs, and led the league with 93 stolen bases.  Winfield hit 25 home runs, drove in 107 runs, and batted .322.  

However, the Red Sox were the division’s most well-balanced team, leading the league with 813 runs scored, a .283 team batting average, and a .357 team on-base percentage, while also compiling a very respectable team ERA of 3.97.  

Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst anchored Boston’s pitching staff.  Clemens won 18 games, compiled a 2.93 ERA, and led all A.L. hurlers with 291 strikeouts, 14 complete games, and eight shutouts.  Hurst posted an exceptional 18-6 record and finished second on the staff with 166 strikeouts, seven complete games, and 217 innings pitched.

On offense, Dwight Evans hit 21 home runs, drove in 111 runs, scored 96 others, and batted .293.  Centerfielder Ellis Burks hit 18 homers, knocked in 92 runs, scored another 93, batted .294, and stole 25 bases.  Wade Boggs had one of his finest seasons, winning his fourth straight batting title with a mark of .366.  He also collected 214 hits and led the league with 128 runs scored, 45 doubles, 125 bases on balls, and a .480 on-base percentage.  Replacing Jim Rice as the team’s regular left-fielder, Mike Greenwell hit 22 home runs and placed among the league leaders with 119 runs batted in, a .325 batting average, and a .420 on-base percentage.  The 24-year-old outfielder’s outstanding performance earned him a second-place finish in the league MVP balloting.  

The Red Sox proved to be no match for the A’s in the ALCS, dropping the Series in four straight games.  Boston put up a good fight in the first two contests, losing both by a single run.  However, the A’s overpowered the Red Sox when the Series shifted to Oakland for the next two games, outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 14-7.  Although Jose Canseco homered in three of the four contests, ALCS MVP honors went to Dennis Eckersley, who saved all four games and allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings of work.

The World Series pitted the A’s against the upset-minded Dodgers, who surprised virtually everyone by getting past the Mets in the NLCS.  The Dodgers worked their magic again in the Fall Classic, stunning the heavily-favored A’s by defeating them in five games.  The turning point of the Series occurred in the very first game, when a limping Kirk Gibson turned an apparent 4-3 Oakland win into a 5-4 Los Angeles victory by coming off the bench to hit a dramatic pinch-hit two-run homer off Dennis Eckersley with two men out in the bottom of the ninth inning.  Gibson’s blast gave the Dodgers all the momentum they needed to cap a truly remarkable postseason run.   

Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:

• April 12 - The Baltimore Orioles dismissed manager Cal Ripken after losing their sixth consecutive game at the start of the season.  The Orioles replaced Ripken with Frank Robinson, who subsequently piloted the team to another 15 straight losses.  Baltimore’s 21 consecutive losses at the start of the season established a new major league record.

• July 29 - The Boston Red Sox traded away Brady Anderson and future World Series hero Curt Schilling to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Boddicker.

• September 8 – The owners unanimously elected A. Bartlett Giamatti to replace outgoing Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

• Toronto’s Fred McGriff batted .282, scored 100 runs, and placed second in the league with 34 home runs and a .552 slugging average.

• Milwaukee’s Robin Yount batted .306, knocked in 91 runs, and scored 92 others.

• Brewer teammate Paul Molitor finished among the league leaders with a .312 batting average, 115 runs scored, and 41 stolen bases.

• Oakland’s Walt Weiss earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• The Yankees fired Billy Martin as their manager for a record fifth time.

• The American League won the All-Star Game 2-1 in Cincinnati.

• Toronto's Dave Stieb lost a no-hitter with two men out in the ninth inning in two consecutive starts.

• The Hall of Fame inducted Willie Stargell.

• Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell and Edd Roush both passed away.  Roush, 94, was the last surviving participant of the 1919 World Series.

• Harvey Kuenn died.

• Kansas City’s Mark Gubicza won 20 games and finished among the league leaders with 270 innings pitched and a 2.70 ERA.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 2154 5358 550 1275 517 .216 199 20 137 69 44 1925 .309 .310 .620 140 45 40
BOS 2056 5545 813 1569 760 .250 310 39 124 65 36 2329 .365 .363 .729 139 55 66
CAL 2226 5582 714 1458 660 .209 258 31 124 86 52 2150 .295 .285 .592 120 52 63
CHA 2159 5449 631 1327 573 .208 224 35 132 98 46 2017 .298 .317 .630 118 43 67
CLE 2053 5505 666 1435 629 .215 235 28 134 97 50 2128 .292 .317 .609 108 51 36
DET 2180 5433 703 1358 650 .233 213 28 143 87 42 2056 .324 .359 .683 136 37 66
KCA 2158 5469 704 1419 671 .211 275 40 121 137 54 2137 .306 .305 .625 105 51 46
MIN 2238 5510 759 1508 710 .230 294 31 151 107 63 2317 .372 .341 .747 130 50 37
ML4 2059 5488 682 1409 632 .231 258 26 113 159 55 2058 .323 .346 .669 123 41 59
NYA 2176 5592 772 1469 713 .202 272 12 148 146 39 2209 .337 .304 .684 130 51 36
OAK 2258 5602 800 1474 752 .230 251 22 156 129 54 2237 .365 .348 .752 142 55 54
SEA 2112 5436 664 1397 617 .247 271 27 148 95 61 2166 .338 .375 .714 135 42 40
TEX 2157 5479 637 1378 589 .222 227 39 112 130 57 2019 .320 .315 .650 111 53 48
TOR 2202 5557 763 1491 706 .249 271 47 158 107 36 2330 .359 .375 .756 145 50 34

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 448 54 107 1417 709 523 6141 1506 153 129.370 716 789 20 2 26 42 25
BOS 412 89 73 1428 1085 493 6088 1415 143 87.260 630 689 26 10 37 45 39
CAL 424 75 87 1456 817 568 6299 1503 135 96.680 698 771 26 6 33 68 37
CHA 454 71 90 1440 754 533 6206 1467 138 113.300 661 757 11 2 43 61 30
CLE 392 78 84 1433 812 442 6145 1501 120 88.580 667 731 35 7 46 36 38
DET 382 88 74 1445 890 497 6113 1361 150 56.240 597 658 34 6 36 57 27
KCA 414 84 77 1430 886 465 6050 1415 102 88.840 580 648 29 9 32 55 27
MIN 427 91 71 1432 897 453 6064 1457 146 113.290 626 672 18 4 52 43 38
ML4 414 87 75 1449 832 437 6027 1355 125 47.420 555 616 30 6 51 36 39
NYA 465 85 76 1455 861 487 6291 1512 157 81.040 690 748 16 4 43 36 41
OAK 452 104 58 1492 983 553 6256 1376 116 47.580 569 620 22 4 64 62 76
SEA 453 68 93 1427 981 558 6092 1385 144 81.510 664 744 28 8 28 50 55
TEX 412 70 91 1438 912 654 6180 1310 129 103.700 651 735 41 8 31 72 57
TOR 456 87 75 1448 904 528 6169 1404 143 62.280 613 680 16 7 47 48 29

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 2674 7358 5453 1762 143 .967 16993 136 56 1.00 18
BOS 2592 7035 5355 1565 115 .975 17118 107 48 0 14
CAL 2679 7597 5561 1853 183 .955 17472 98 64 2.00 13
CHA 2651 7533 5475 1874 184 .955 17266 108 53 0 10
CLE 2525 7351 5482 1716 153 .974 17208 99 53 0 10
DET 2703 7318 5553 1637 128 .981 17351 80 43 0 8
KCA 2648 7253 5364 1738 151 .974 17139 117 42 0 12
MIN 2782 7159 5524 1532 103 .971 17180 112 41 0 13
ML4 2568 7424 5548 1743 133 .963 17392 95 45 0 10
NYA 2636 7420 5579 1680 161 .970 17469 85 29 0 5
OAK 2833 7475 5683 1661 131 .972 17877 93 56 0 13
SEA 2636 7139 5360 1639 140 .977 17135 117 52 0 16
TEX 2680 7341 5395 1793 153 .962 17258 145 52 0 36
TOR 2769 7361 5456 1763 142 .973 17387 120 55 0 12

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Oakland Athletics 104 58 2287335 1 983
Minnesota Twins 91 71 3030672 2 897
Kansas City Royals 84 77 2350181 3 886
California Angels 75 87 2340925 4 817
Chicago White Sox 71 90 1115749 5 754
Texas Rangers 70 91 1581901 6 912
Seattle Mariners 68 93 1022398 7 981

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Boston Red Sox 89 73 2464851 1 1085
Detroit Tigers 88 74 2081162 2 890
Toronto Blue Jays 87 75 2595175 3 904
Milwaukee Brewers 87 75 1923238 3 832
New York Yankees 85 76 2633701 5 861
Cleveland Indians 78 84 1411610 6 812
Baltimore Orioles 54 107 1660738 7 709

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Tagged:
1988 ALCS, 1988 World Series, American League, Billy Martin, Bob Welch, Boston Red Sox, Bruce Hurst, Carney Lansford, Dave Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dave Stieb, Dave Winfield, Dennis Eckersley, Dwight Evans, Ellis Burks, Frank Viola, Fred McGriff, Harvey Kuenn, Joe Carter, Jose Canseco, Kirby Puckett, Kirk Gibson, Mark Gubicza, Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell, Oakland Athletics, Paul Molitor, Rickey Henderson, Robin Yount, Roger Clemens, Storm Davis, Wade Boggs, Walt Weiss

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